View Full Version : I need opinions...

07-06-2015, 03:06 AM
If you would all be so kind as to let me know what you think of my lettering work, I would be very grateful. This is my first comic and my first attempt at lettering, so it might seem a bit rough.



Thanks in advance for your input. Good or bad, it's very welcome.

07-06-2015, 03:07 AM
Just learned masking tonight.


07-06-2015, 07:26 AM
Well I can't read most of it. White lettering with a darker glow behind it is not very good for reading . You'd need to change the font, and size, to make it legible, even then it would probably look bad.

07-06-2015, 09:22 AM
Yeah, that has been a concern of mine. I tried doing something different because regular boxes weren't looking right to me and they were taking up a lot of the artwork in some cases. Any suggestions?

Also, the color is a bit off from the originals and the text looks darker. Something changed when I uploaded it to the sharing site I used.

07-06-2015, 11:58 AM
Yeah, that has been a concern of mine. I tried doing something different because regular boxes weren't looking right to me and they were taking up a lot of the artwork in some cases. Any suggestions?

Yes. Use caption boxes. Any solution that's unreadable is no solution at all. A lot of these captions are sitting over dead space, as they should, so what does it matter if they're covering up the art?



Stewart Vernon
07-06-2015, 05:13 PM
Yeah, I don't think you have a choice here but to use boxes. I've tried on less complex art than this (with my comic strip) and whenever I have dark backgrounds I have no choice but to put a white or off-white box/oval behind the text.

Unreadable text is way worse than partially obscured artwork.

07-07-2015, 04:29 AM
I redid page 1 using your advice, here's the final result.


07-07-2015, 05:45 AM
Caption boxes are better, but I've just dropped that page onto a standard US page template and the text is about 5pt, which is much too small and will be difficult to read. The text needs to be more like 6pt, and you can get some space back by reducing the leading (line spacing) which is much too gappy at present.



Stewart Vernon
07-07-2015, 04:25 PM
Yeah... the line-spacing is typically larger by default because of expected "descenders" in lowercase letters... but when you are using all uppercase, you can reduce thet spacing/leading quite a bit. I usually set mine to the same as the font size... so if I'm typing in 9 pt size, I set the leading to 9 pt as well.

If you do that, you can probably have 6pt text in the same or even slightly smaller space than you currently have the 5pt text.

This is already a LOT easier to read, though.

07-07-2015, 05:28 PM
I can't thank you guys enough for your help, this has been driving me crazy. I haven't had any formal training and I've been trying to learn on the fly to get this first promo issue done. I'm glad I asked before I got too far into lettering.

I'll make the adjustments you've suggested when I get home from work tonight. I'm really eager to learn and I've been spending a lot of time on youtube and comicraft.com reading articles and watching tutorial videos. Obviously, I still have a lot to learn.

07-08-2015, 04:42 AM
Obviously, I still have a lot to learn.

There's a complete walk-through, from prepping your script to complex masking FX, on my blog (http://clintflickerlettering.blogspot.co.uk). Just look on the right hand side and work through the sections under the Illustrator Tutorial: Quick Links heading.



07-08-2015, 06:15 AM
Thank you for the link to your blog, I'm bookmarking it as we speak. I'll start reading it tonight after work (maybe at work, if it's dead).

Here is the text with the adjustments you guys suggested:


I increased the font size to 14 pt (my image is currently 11 by 17) and adjusted the line spacing to 13. I added a gradient to the boxes simply because the yellow was hurting my eyes after awhile. Does the placement seem kind of busy? It seems sort of cluttered to me.

Stewart Vernon
07-08-2015, 04:01 PM
That next to last panel is probably the most "busy"... and when you first look at it, you wonder how the text is supposed to be read. When I actually read the page, top to bottom, I don't have a problem following the text correctly.

One thing I ask myself, when I'm working on my comic strip... is "are all those words necessary"? Sometimes they are, and I have to struggle to find a place for them all in a panel... other times I come up with a shorter way to say the same thing. Of course, when you're not the writer, you can't just make those decisions... but sometimes you might be able to "negotiate" if the page starts to look too cluttered with dialog/text.

07-09-2015, 04:38 AM
I increased the font size to 14 pt (my image is currently 11 by 17) and adjusted the line spacing to 13. I added a gradient to the boxes simply because the yellow was hurting my eyes after awhile.

First: why are you working at 11"x17"…? Always work in Illustrator at your final output size, otherwise you're just introducing an extra step of complexity trying to get the scaling right at the end of the process. Create your AI document at the size of the finished product and fit your art to that, then letter over the top.

If you're in any doubt as to a workable point size, simply find a professionally lettered page online somewhere and scale that image to fit your AI document. Compare the size of your text to the size of the pro's text and you should be good.

Second: "hurting your eyes after a while" is no reason to change the colour of your captions. Your readers are only going to spend a fraction of the time looking at the page that you have. Does the yellow look OK at first? Then it's probably fine. If you're unsure, tone it down — try Y80, Y60, Y40. The reader is supposed to see the text not the background.

Third: I still think you can close that leading up some more.

Fourth: the reader will read your page like any other — left to right, top to bottom. Their eye will start in the top left corner, scan right until it hits the panel border and then drop down looking for the next thing to read (imagine a Z shape). Both Panels 2 and 4 don't give the reader a clear reading order and, I strongly suggest, need to be re-thought.



07-09-2015, 07:25 AM
In retrospect, I have no logical reason to be working at 11x17 other than I first started with only photoshop and I had been told to work from a larger size. I guess I just hadn't thought about it.

What I ment when I said I had changed the color because it hurt my eyes was that I was working on it with the gradient and forgot to change it back before posting it. I saw it as a minor issue compared to the other issues I was facing relating to lettering the page.

I can try adjusting the leading a bit more. I had gone tighter on the lines, but I thought it was getting a bit too tight. I'll take another look at that.

I'll try readjusting panels 2 and 4. I only did the placement like that for ease of flow, but I can see what you mean. It does look a bit odd. I suffer from over thinking/complicating things at times. This is why, in retrospect, I probably should have hired a letterer (amongst the other obvious reasons).

07-09-2015, 11:46 AM
I think there's a couple points where I can lose a bit of text as well. I'm going to go over it a bit more this afternoon and see if I can make more adjustments.

07-10-2015, 03:25 AM
What do you guys think of this? I feel like I've finally got my narration placement right and the leading looks good (in my opinion anyway). I'm finally happy with the placement in panel 4 also (panel 4 has been the bane of my existence for about a month or so).


BTW, I've been reading your blog Jim and it's fantastic. It's exactly what I've been looking for, thank you.

Stewart Vernon
07-10-2015, 02:39 PM
A lot better. Maybe it's just me... but I find myself skipping "in a windstorm" until I have already read the second dialog block.

The "in a" part is especially hidden... so that "windstorm" kind of looks like a sound effect at first glance, which is why I think I keep skipping over it.

07-11-2015, 07:07 PM
I considered putting a skewed dialog box behind it, but I thought that might be a bit too much. I don't want to get rid of that bit because it helps to show how these specific characters manipulate reality. They're breaking the fourth wall and communicating with the reader.

Comics Commando
07-19-2015, 06:32 PM
To get a workable font size and text settings {leading, etc.} scan a page [or take a picture] from a respected printed comic book--something mainstream.

Then plunk it into your template to the edges and lock the layer. In another layer, set your font to match the font in the scan...the font size, the leading, kerning, etc. It doesn't have to be the same font, per se, just so it takes up the same relative space.

Once it's satisfactory, lose the scan and use the same text/font settings you just set up in your future work.

Kurt Hathaway
Cartoon Balloons Studio
Lettering Logos Pre-Press Graphic Design Video
for Print or Web Entertainment, Advertising or Education!